Defendant's Ability to Obtain Plaintiff's Complete Medical History -
What limitations exist, if any, on a defendant’s ability to obtain a plaintiff’s complete medical history, both pre and post incident?
In West Virginia, there are very few limitations on a defendant’s ability to obtain a plaintiff’s complete medical history. That ability is tempered by the ‘normal’ limits contained in Rule 26 of the West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure (WVRCP) concerning discovery (generally), by the relevancy standards set forth in Rule 45 of the WVRCP, and by applicable federal law such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
West Virginia codified its allowable process for obtaining hospital records for a court proceeding in W.Va. Code §57-5-4a, et seq. Strict compliance with the provisions of that statute is required in order to obtain hospital records for use as evidence in trials or hearings.
In addition, West Virginia has implemented certain statutory protections to limit disclosure of a party’s mental health records, and now requires a court order to obtain such records absent a voluntary authorization signed by that party. (See, Barber v. Camden Clark Memorial Hospital, 815 S.E.2d 474 (W.Va., 2018); W.Va. Code §27-3-1, et seq.)
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